With a plethora of afternoon teas on offer here in the capital, there are plenty serving the ubiquitous scone and plate of sandwiches with the odd twist and others that offer a unique experience. London Hilton on Park Lane are thankfully great at the latter and have swapped their ‘Confessions of a Chocoholic’ four-course feast of chocolate-laden treats tea for an homage to The Rolling Stones.
I’m here at the Podium Restaurant with my good friend Dr K and we’re a stone’s throw away (excuse the pun but this could be the first of many) from the stage where the Rolling Stones are performing their 50 & Counting Tour in Hyde Park. It’s the Hotel’s half century and they share it with …. you’ve guessed it, the band and back in the day they were regular visitors. Apparently the riff to their first international hit ‘Satisfaction’ was written right here in the Hotel. The anniversary is a perfect excuse for the chefs to release all their rock ‘n’ roll creativity and the results are well worth the wait, diners can enjoy six themed fancies which crown a cake stand bursting with sweet treats.
As we settle into our seat in the ground floor restaurant, we’re given a menu and offered a box of 6 small sample pots of loose leaf teas which we’re encouraged to smell and read a short synopsis on. We choose Gunpowder Green – a basic green tea from China’s Zhejiang Province, it takes its name from the lead-coloured rolled leaf balls and its smoked flavour.
There’s a choice of open sandwiches for both meat lovers and vegetarians and we ask our waiter for a variety. Our platter arrives with a choice of traditional fillings but I can’t stand processed meat, so haven’t much to say on the wafer-thin-watery-ham, Pommery mustard and cherry tomato offering. That said, the bread was incredibly fresh, and our sandwiches obviously made fresh to order. I had no complaints with the prawn, smoked salmon and horseradish, egg mayonnaise and cucumber and cream cheese and chive sandwiches, they were all delicious.
As that platter is taken away, we make way for a three-tiered cake stand with fruit and plain scones, cupcakes, biscuits, macaroons, cheesecake, lollipops and a plate made of chocolate.
It’s a quick glance at each other with the ‘how on earth will we get through this lot’ face.
So we start, as instructed, from the bottom with the scones which are warm and served with small pots of strawberry jam, clotted cream and something I’ve not had before a chocolate ganache which was divine.
And slowly work our way to the top where we find the Stones-themed treats.
There’s a swagger space chocolate cupcake …
… with a surprise vanilla cream centre.
A lemon and sherbet popping cake.
With the an oozing raspberry centre.
Finger-licking sticky toffee cupcake.
A chocolate macaroon ‘disc’
‘Tumbling dice. – based on the top 10 hit – sitting on top of the dark chocolate ‘plate’. Two squares of lemon sponge, had been delicately wrapped in marzipan and piped with chocolate dots. The care and attention on all the cakes is clear and a massive hats-off to the Chefs who conjured up the idea and the execution.
A 1978-inspired rainbow lolly made of meringue is weighted in a shot glass by toffee-flavoured dark chocolate balls. The other lollipop is a liquorice wheel – perfect 78 material – embellished with tiny sugared lips.
The iconic “Tongue and Lip Design” by John Pasche which was originally reproduced on the Sticky Fingers album.
The picture of a young Mick Jagger recreating the album cover ‘Tattoo You’ was on top of a delicate square cheesecake which had been dusted with bright red edible powder, when broken it revealed a delicate crunchy pistachio croquante base with a marshmallow light top.
When it was clear we had been beaten by this generous tea, we were given a special ‘Pink Lady’ box to take home what was left – a Beggar’s Banquet this is not.
I watch as the guests are offered an attentive but unobtrusive waiting service, regular checks on water for teapots, cream for scones and top-ups of the mint-infused water and all with a smile. Thank you Anja you looked after us marvellously well.
If you’re looking for an afternoon tea with a quirky edge, be quick, The Rolling Scones experience ends on the 31st July. If you can’t make it, enjoy my pictures but do keep the Hilton on Park Lane in mind for tea – their Chocoholics tea resumes normal service at the beginning of August and who knows could there be a tea in honour of a Royal birth, Buckingham Palace isn’t far away either!
For more information or to book the Rolling Scones afternoon tea, visit the Hilton website or call 020 7493 8000 or email email@example.com
The tea is £29.50 per person.
Thank you to the Hilton for allowing us to be their guests it was a great waste of an afternoon.